Letting the Finite Vanish: Hegel, Tillich, and Caputo on the Ontological Philosophy of Religion*

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Jacob Neal Given


In general, Kant’s critique of metaphysics still holds up, especially for religious metaphysics. This situation does not necessarily debunk the truth of either position, but it has produced, as Lyotard wrote, a “postmodern condition” defined by incredulity toward metanarratives. In other words, metaphysics has lost its appeal; apologetic arguments no longer sway us. I argue that the ontological philosophy of religion (in the Tillichian sense) is an interesting and productive avenue for current philosophy of religion in that it does not rely on the sort of metaphysical argumentation that so often ends in stalemate. Though this does not preclude religious truth claims. Rather, we must reimagine religious truth, and work at understanding the status of our confessions in the context of a hermeneutic phenomenology. 

Through an examination of Hegel and Tillich, I will demonstrate that the ontological philosophy of religion is qualitatively distinct from metaphysical thinking. I will then demonstrate that Caputo's "religion without religion" functions on an ontological level, and therefore does not contradict religious metaphysics. Rather, this ontological examination reveals the contingent status of our religious confessions. 

Article Details

Theology and Religious Studies
Author Biography

Jacob Neal Given, Villanova University

Jacob Given is an M.A. candidate in the Theology and Religious Studies program at Villanova. He earned a B.A. in Humanities and Biblical Studies at Columbia International University. His research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and theology. In particular, he is interested in Kierkegaard studies, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. He hopes to bring these discourses together in order to reinterpret the liberating story of Christianity, aiming to contribute to an existentially and politically potent rendition of the theological tradition.